Burn injuries can be sustained from a number of sources, and can cause severe pain, disfigurement, disability, and death.
Thermal burns are the most common types of burns, and are caused by primarily fires, smoke, scalding, steam, and inhalation. Fires can start from many everyday household items (including appliances, gas cans, water heaters, electrical systems, propane tanks) as well as from gas explosions and spills. Thermal burns can range from first to third degree, with third degree being the most severe. Severe burn injuries often lead to many complications, including infections, organ failure and shock.
Both propane gas and natural gas pose dangers in and outside of the home, and at some workplaces. Propane gas explosions are particularly dangerous and often result in traumatic burns.
Propane gas, also called Liquefied petroleum gas or LP gas, is a colorless and odorless substance, which is extremely dangerous when it comes into contact with a source of ignition. It is often used to provide heat to homes or buildings in rural areas, where there is little or no access to natural gas infrastructures. To ensure safety, industry custom and practice, as well as applicable laws and NFPA standards, mandate the injection of an odorant into the gas to it may be smelled by the end user. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, at least 372,600 households and 1,008,000 mobile homes in the United States use propane as their primary source of heat.1
Fires or explosions caused by natural gas lines (uncapped gas or punctured gas lines, for example) are also of concern, although the risk of explosion is far less than that from propane gas. Like propane gas, natural gas should also include an odorant so that a leak is easily recognizable.
The problems associated with Propane Gas are largely due to the negligence of manufacturers, distributors, technicians and other responsible parties. This behavior includes, but is not limited to:
- Failure to warn of the dangers of propane gas;
- Failure to supply propane gas detectors;
- Failure to odorize gas, or improper odorizing of gas;
- Failure to inspect or inadequate inspection of systems;
- Malfunction of appliances or pilot safety systems;
- Failure to properly manufacture, transport or distribute gas;
- Improper installation, repair or removal of appliances;
- Environmental conditions (ex: flooding, high water, tornadoes, hurricanes) that could affect the proper operation of a gas tank or appliance; and
- Failure to comply with mandatory code and safety standards; or
- Failure to comply with recommended safety guidelines, such as GASCheck.
If you smell gas or think there may be a leak, it is important that you immediately vacate the home or building and get to a place of safety. When you get somewhere safe, call 911 or your gas company, and stay away from the building until it is determined to be safe. If it can be done safely, you should turn off the main source of the gas.
If you or a family member has been burned or injured by a burn or an explosion, call Jonah Flynn, a burn lawyer who handles burn injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia and throughout the country.
1 See the 1997 Residential Energy Consumption Survey report published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
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